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Grand Designs


A Winter Park professional gets to know the artist–grandfather he never met by collecting the man’s illustrations.

 

Chris Raleigh
Chris Raleigh has a collection of his grandfather’s works at home 

Chris Raleigh never met his paternal grandfather, but he has spent the last 20 years getting to know him as a legendary illustrator for such magazines as the The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar.

Henry Patrick Raleigh, born in 1880, was known for his illustrations of serialized stories and spent much of his life in New York City high society. Having started his career in San Francisco, illustrating fires, hangings and other dramatic events for The Examiner newspaper, he moved on to magazines and books.  His profile grew considerably in 1916 when he illustrated a series of stories for H.G. Wells.

“He was one of the top illustrators in The Saturday Evening Post, which was the top market for illustrators of that time,” says Walt Reed, founder of Illustration House gallery in New York City and author of Great American Illustrators.  “He had a distinct style based on his news work.”

 Like his paternal grandfather, Chris Raleigh has put his own creative stamp on his life’s work. A Winter Park-based interior designer, Raleigh has worked on such notable projects as the Pleasure Island Jazz Company, Lombardi’s Landing and, perhaps best known of all his efforts, the Hard Rock Café in Orlando, with its 340-foot-long Stratocaster guitar.

Raleigh, 62, began seriously researching his grandfather’s work in the late 1980s. In 1989, right before he was to marry, Illustration House in New York offered to sell him roughly a dozen of Henry Raleigh’s works. Facing impending wedding costs, he regretfully declined.

However, his secretary sent out notes to every wedding guest telling them of the collection. On their wedding day, Raleigh and his wife were surprised with a collection of Henry Raleigh’s work.  After that, the grandson was hooked.

“I started looking everywhere for Henry Raleighs,” Raleigh says. “It also made me reconnect with all the family members I hadn’t seen in a long time.”

He currently has more than 100 illustrations and the magazine stories connected to about 75 percent of those illustrations. Still, all of that is a drop in the bucket considering Henry Raleigh had 20,000 published works to his name by age 50. 

All this inspired Chris Raleigh to write a book. He says it will be heavy with his grandfather’s art, and it also will incorporate the life of the man he so admires but knows only by reputation. 

“Hearing about my grandfather, it gave me a very strong work ethic. He was a perfectionist,” Raleigh says. “During the Depression he accumulated vast amounts of money and fame—a rare combination for an artist.”

Jun 29, 2012 12:52 pm
 Posted by  ESP

Serendipitous discovery of this article! My mother was one of your grandfather's models in the mid-late-1930s when he had his Manhattan studio. She died in 2006, aged 92. As a result of their relationship, I have about a dozen works by him (he often gave her pieces of his artwork in lieu of cash payment), etchings and mixed media watercolors, including a large (head) portrait he did of my mother when she was about 21, another smaller watercolor and ink drawing he made of my mother and aunt posing in a dream scene, and a great favorite of mine -- a watercolor and ink of a kasbah scene.

Since my entire childhood through the present has been spent "in his presence," H P Raleigh has been one of my favorite artists.

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